Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Fixer: The Rise and Fall of Australian Drug Lord Robert Trimbole

In the Money

From early 1973, Trimbole seemed to be doing very well for himself. He set up various companies in the names of friends and family members and was rumored to be making his money by growing and distributing marijuana.

His riches grew to the point where he was able to completely discharge his bankruptcy and build a large, conspicuous house, complete with swimming pool, in a good part of town.   His alleged reputation as a drug baron had many locals referring to his house as the grass castle. Within months he had amassed an empire valued at over $2 million.

He quickly invested in farms, cars, speedboats, several clothing stores, a liquor store and a wholesale wine business. He later added a trucking company and a supermarket to his portfolio, and began to amass additional acreage allegedly used to grow even more marijuana.

He started transporting his illegal goods to Sydney where he forged alliances with known criminal organizations who were more than happy to distribute his product in exchange for a generous cut of the profits.

Before long he was the principal of the Griffith marijuana trade and was often called the Godfather. He was also known to have several local police officers on his payroll to notify him of any official interest in his activities and to warn him about any impending raids.

He was also a big gambler and often placed $20,000 bets at a time. He would later attempt to explain away his conspicuous drug-related income as race winnings.

Not content to bet fairly, he instigated a race-fixing scheme and enlisted the aid of race trainers and jockeys to help him pull off his scam.

This consisted of paying jockeys to pull their mounts just enough to give the Trimbole favored horse a winning edge. This edge was often provided by performance-enhancing drugs that were administered by trainers loyal to Trimbole.

The racing game not only gave Trimbole additional income, it also provided a much-needed method of legally laundering a percentage of his drug-related income. A racecourse is one of the few places where it is possible to move large amounts of money without attracting too much attention.

According to David Hickies book The Prince and the Premier, Trimboles betting accounts showed that he had come out about even after betting over $200,000 between 1976 and 1977. Hickies book also refers to a royal commission into drug trafficking, chaired by Justice Woodward, which later found that Trimbole had adopted a practice of favorite betting, coupled with each-way bets on comparatively short-priced horses. This would increase turnover, increase the number of dividend checks and aid in the representation that those dividends represented race winnings. Such a pattern of betting suggests that the objective was to turn over large sums of money.

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